Business news of interest this week

Jason Maywald

Business stories compiled by Jason Maywald

1) – Seven West loses $444 million on more impairments

Seven West Media has reported a $444.5 million full-year loss after again writing down the value of its TV licences, newspapers and goodwill by millions of dollars.

Seven West, which last week abruptly ended Tim Worner’s six years as chief executive, had already warned of lower full-year underlying earnings because of a softer advertising market and on Tuesday confirmed a 10 per cent fall.

The free-to-air network said revenue for the 12 months to June 30 fell 4.2 per cent, while its bottom line was hit hard by $611 million of one-off items.

James Warburton, who last week stepped into Mr Worner’s shoes with immediate effect, said a tough economic backdrop had hit advertisers.

“We have incredibly strong assets, and our focus moving forward is to speed up the rate of transformation while exploring opportunities for growth in our core and adjacent markets,” Mr Warburton said.

“We will be a hunter and explore M&A opportunities in both traditional media and non-traditional adjacencies that are positive for our shareholders.”


2) – Mining giant BHP pays out record dividend but profit lower than expected

BHP’s profits have hit a five-year high on the back of a boom in the price of iron ore, prompting the global mining giant to announce the largest payout to shareholders in the company’s history.

BHP’s underlying earnings for the financial year reached $US9.4 billion ($13.9 billion), according to the miner’s accounts released on Tuesday, falling short of what most analysts had been predicting. Shareholders will receive a final dividend of US78¢, taking total dividends including a special dividend to $US2.35 a share ($3.35), the company said.

Mr Mackenzie on Tuesday described the company’s operating performance over the financial year as “spectacular”, saying BHP had become the lowest-cost iron ore producer in the world with $US11.89 per tonne for the six months to June and $US12.86 for the full financial year.


3) – Hong Kong billionaire tycoons call for end to protests as unrest affects their profits

Hong Kong’s property tycoons are hurting, the share market is tanking and the tourism sector has taken a beating as the pro-democracy movement continues to strangle the city.

While the US-China trade war has fuelled some of the losses, weeks of violent protests have wreaked havoc for investor sentiment and caused huge reputational damage for the semi-autonomous territory as an economic powerhouse.

As the protest movement enters its 11th week with no signs of slowing down, analysts are predicting the financial hub is barrelling towards recession.

Now the city’s ultra-rich are calling for the protests to end.

The net worth of the 10 wealthiest tycoons, who derive their fortune from Hong Kong-listed companies, has shed billions since the protests started in June, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.


4) – Stuff pulls pin, ending big media companies’ joint ad-buying business

A four-way automated advertising collaboration between the country’s largest media companies is being wound up after one of the four – Australian-owned Stuff – pulled the pin on its involvement as part of a strategic review of its operations under new owner Nine Entertainment.

The formerly Fairfax Media-owned Stuff is a partner in the KPEX ‘programmatic’ ad-buying platform that was established in 2015 with New Zealand’s three other large media organisations: TVNZ, Mediaworks, and NZME (publisher of the New Zealand Herald).

Stuff’s chief executive, Sinead Boucher, told BusinessDesk that KPEX had made sense at the time of its establishment both because automated ad-buying was a much smaller part of the advertising market then than it is now. All four media firms have also developed different commercial strategies in the interim.


5) – ANZ says its hands are tied on NZ capital

ANZ Bank says it may be forced to ration capital allocated to New Zealand and retain a higher proportion of earnings in NZ after the prudential regulator slashed the ceiling on capital allocated to foreign subsidiaries.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority had been consulting on the capital changes for a year but the move threatens to escalate a trans-Tasman tit-for-tat over bank capital requirements.